Continued from page 1

The Local Coordination Committees said four civilians were killed in the government shelling, while the Observatory said 10 soldiers were killed when their checkpoint was attacked by defectors.

Earlier this year, Mr. Assad’s forces began major military operations to retake rebel-held areas, starting with an attack that recaptured several suburbs of the capital, Damascus, and followed by the offensive in Homs.

The U.N. refugee agency said 230,000 Syrians have fled their homes since the uprising against Mr. Assad’s regime began last year. The United Nations says more than 7,500 people have been killed in the past 12 months.